A New Semester, A New Beginning

Written by ALI M. RASOOL
Regret no further over that terrible semester. After a summer of relaxation, it is now time to put pen to paper and focus on creating positive change. It’s a new beginning, and early preparation is pivotal to making sure you do your best this semester. The following are a few tips I thought might be a constructive way to start the new semester just right.
Back to the Groove
Get your sleep schedule back on track. Give yourself 8-9 hours of rest coupled with a healthy breakfast (not just an energy bar) to power you for your day. Have core office supplies like writing utensils, folders, and notebooks in check so you don’t have to be scrambling for the basics.
Build a Schedule
Start chalking out your schedule a few days before class. Add class times, workout times, meeting times, etc. Having a set time for breakfast, snack time, lunch and dinner will benefit your daily routine and keep you healthful.  Writing your schedule down is alright, but sometimes you can lose track of papers. So digital calendars like Google Calendar, for example, prove really useful in building your schedule. You can sync it with your smartphone, too, so it’s always with you.
Situate Yourself
Dress nicely. Come early to class and situate yourself at a spot preferably close to the professor. Facing the professor and watching his/her mouth as he/she lectures will facilitate your note taking process, as you will both see and hear what you need to know. It’s a good idea to read over the syllabus in class, and then ask the professor if there’s anything you’re unsure of. This will also give you the chance to meet with your professor for the first time. Eye contact, a solid handshake, clarity and confidence in speech and stature will make you memorable. Make an effort to introduce yourself with the Teaching Assistant as well. You will very likely work with this person throughout the course. Doing this from class to class will make you familiar with how the class structure will work, and it will also ease anxiety.
Knowing the Course Agenda
On the back pages of most class syllabi, you will find a course schedule of topics that the teacher expects to follow during the semester. Using an online version of the syllabi, you can copy and paste the topic titles into your digital schedule (Google Calendar). This way you know what class will be over the next day and when your assignments will be due.
How Will I Study For This Class?
Now that you’ve read your syllabi, you need to gauge how you will study for this class. Is the class lecture dependent, textbook dependent, both? Which books will you need to buy? Is it a flipped-classroom setting (one in which Quest online modules completed by students outside of class account for most of the learning done in the course)? Can you bring your laptops to class for note-taking? These are all solid questions you should try to get answered within the first week. As for textbooks, it’s always a good idea to wait for the first week before you make any textbook purchases for your classes. You don’t want to have to worry about selling them later after realizing you don’t need them.
Make it Routine to Keep Organized
Before starting the work of the day, it’s a good idea to check your emails and review your schedule/calendar so you know what’s ahead of you. Aside from keeping a daily schedule, it’s also useful to have a small planner. You can get one for free at the Sanger Learning Center, and it serves as a neat place to quickly jot down any thoughts you have on what you need to get accomplished today.
That concludes my advice on how to get settled and stay on track with the new semester. Make the most out of your days here at UT, my fellow colleagues. Best of luck with the semester!

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